With the coronavirus death toll now topping 1,000, several countries — including the United States, the UK and Japan — are working to evacuate their citizens from Wuhan; Nigeria is yet to take such a step.
Victor Vincent, who is an executive of the Nigerian Students in Wuhan Association; said the group had asked the government for evacuation and medical supplies, such as masks, goggles, gloves, and disinfectants.
There was a glimmer of hope on Thursday, February 6; when Vincent, who is also the student association’s financial secretary, received a grant of 20,000 Chinese yuan ($2,870) from the Nigerian ambassador to China.
The money was provided to “assist us in procuring foodstuffs and medical supplies,” Vincent said.
But he added: “Other than that, the situation remains the same. We still have no clear indication of when we are getting evacuation; where we will be quarantined or even if that will happen at all.”
“As each day passes, the chances of evacuation slip by,” said the student who has been studying in Wuhan since September 2018. “It’s the total lack of support and sense of abandonment by your country.”
Meanwhile, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, chairperson of the official Nigerians in Diaspora Commission said: “This will be handled by the Minister of Foreign Affairs. He has to give further instructions in this regard. This is strictly a country-to-country matter. He has to take the decision.”
The students also heard from the Nigerian Embassy in a letter dated January 31.
However, it does not directly address requests for evacuation due to the coronavirus or medical supplies.
Vincent said the official response was “unprofessional, in light of the circumstances.”
The group of Nigerians includes students from various universities across Wuhan; including the Huazhong University of Science and Technology and Central China Normal University.
They have also taken on the cause of several other Nigerian teachers and businesspeople living in Hubei province. “They’re all part of the larger Nigerian community here,” said Vincent.
One of these, a Nigerian businessman living in Wuhan, Deji Idowu; questioned whether the Ebola outbreak that struck parts of Africa in recent years has made his country particularly cautious about evacuations.
“Ebola has made people really afraid,” said Idowu; a former president of the Nigerian Students in Wuhan Association which Vincent is also a member of.
Nonetheless, he remains “optimistic the Nigerian government will help us.”